Time Freight Velolife’s U23 cross-country star Candice Neethling recently returned from a successful two-week trip to the USA to compete in two high profile cross-country races ahead of the UCI World Cup season. The 2014 U23 African Continental Champion finished 13th at the HC-rating Bonelli Park and 8th at the Category 1 Fontana City USA Pro XC rounds and on both occasions stood on the top step of the U23 podium.
“It was a fantastic trip. Some of the best female bike racers in the world come from the US, and it’s quite easy to see why. There is so much depth to the field, and everybody really seems to enjoy cross-county over there. I was blown away,” smiled the 22-year old.
On both occasions, Luna Pro Woman’s team dominated the racing, spearheaded by regular world cup contenders Katerina Nash and Catherine Pendrel, the 2012 XC World Champion.
“The pace was really really tough out there. In South Africa we just don’t have the numbers yet, so to be starting on the second row out of ten and fighting for space from the gun was quite an experience. The Luna Pro team are really professional, and lift the standard really high - almost to that of an elite women’s World Cup.
“I struggled somewhat at the first race - it was a difficult course. None of the climbs were longer than thirty seconds, which on the one hand was great, but on the other meant there wasn’t much recovery. I felt quite average, but I think the jet lag and heat had something to do with not being my best.
“The following week I felt a lot better at the second race in Fontana. The course was a lot more arid, and the rugged terrain suited me much more - there were longer, technical climbs and a really challenging downhill. My BMC TE01 was a great choice for the rocky and loose terrain - I’m really enjoying racing my bike at the moment.
Neethling indeed fared a lot better at the second event. At the end of the third lap of five, she sat in fifth, just 40 seconds off the lead. With tactics coming into play, it looked like it all might come back together before Catherine Pendrel went all in and rode away to victory. Neethling finished eighth, under five minutes off the winning time.
“It’s all about perspective. I’m racing with some of the fastest women on the planet, and it really just opens my eyes to what is possible. I’m really inspired by the level that the girls over here are at - we can only get better. It’s great preparation for the upcoming World Cup season.”
With the opening round of the UCI Mountainbike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg in just under three weeks’ time, Neethling looks poised to give it her all in the upcoming short-course season.
Candice Neethling rides for the Time Freight VELOlife Woman’s Cycling team, onboard BMC bikes and partnered with Catlike helmets, Selle SMP saddles, Pearl Izumi cycling apparel, MADO casual apparel, BON – Busby Oils Natal, Futurelife Energy cereal and GU energy supplements.
Summary of Results - Bonelli XCO - Elite Women
1 Katerina Nash (CZA) Luna Pro Team 01:19:43
2 Catherine Pendrel (CAN) Luna Pro Team +00:00:24
3 Emily Batty (CAN) Trek Factory Racing +00:00:53
4 Daniela Campuzano Chavez (MEX) Mexico National Team +00:03:20
5 Evelyn Dong (USA) Backcountry.com +00:04:36
13 Candice Neethling (RSA) Bundu Bashers +00:08:33
Summary of Results - Fontana XCO - Elite Women
1 Catherine Pendrel (CAN) Luna Pro Team 01:29:06
2 Katerina Nash (CZA) Luna Pro Team +00:00:30
3 Emily Batty (CAN) Trek Factory Racing +00:00:56
4 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team +00:02:01
5 Evelyn Dong (USA) Backcountry.com +00:02:19
8 Candice Neethling (RSA) Bundu Bashers +00:04:56
Source: Disseminated by VELOlife, courtesy Hebron Media Solutions